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LGBT+ Media

How Formula 1 supports the LGBTQ+ community

What is Formula 1?

F1 is the biggest racing series in the world and is slowly becoming one of the world’s biggest global sports. They race globally every year and are known as the “pinnacle of motorsport”.

Ten teams race two cars and two drivers across 23 races (as of the 2022 season) around the world every year to determine the World Driver’s Championship.

In recent times, F1 has shown support to people of colour, from different ethnic backgrounds, and people from the LGBTQ+ community.

What F1 and its teams and drivers doing to support the LGBTQ+ community?

“We Race as One” campaign

In July 2020,  F1 introduced the “We Race as One” campaign, which was used to spread awareness to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also it brings attention to the fight against inequality to ethnic groups and the LGBTQ+ community.

The logo consisted of a rainbow which was the colours of all the 10 teams on the F1 grid, which matched with the name “We Race as One”. These logos are placed predominantly on the F1 tracks, and it is also placed on some of the cars and driver race suits.

Sir Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton will go down as a racing legend, with 7 world champion titles, and more than 100 race wins.

But he will also go down as a legend for the work he has done for minority groups. He is very vocal about supporting minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2021, Lewis wore a helmet with the colours of the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag in 3 countries with very strong prejudice and laws against LGBTQ+ rights.

“[For the LGBTQ+ community] there’s prison time, death penalty and restrictions from people for being themselves, and I don’t believe in that.”

Lewis said, before the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Lewis wearing his world famous pride helmet, after winning the 2021 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The helmet read “We Stand Together” on the back of the helmet. He faced major backlash for this from locals and some officials, but still went ahead with it anyway in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi.

“I will wear that helmet again here and in the next race [in Abu Dhabi] because it is an issue. If anyone wants to take time to read what the law is for the LGBT+ community, it is pretty terrifying. There are changes that need to be made.”

Sebastian Vettel

Another driver who is very vocal about LGBTQ+ rights is German 4-time world champion Sebastian Vettel.

“I often get the question ‘Why is this important to you?’ This is not important to me, this is important to all of us.”

Sebastian said, after being asked why he chooses to speak up on social and environmental issues.

Before the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, he was wearing a shirt and mask in the colours of the LGBTQ+ flag with the words “Same Love” written on the shirt.

Sebastian wearing the “Same Love” shirt before the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

He received criticism for this as Hungary is a country with very strong anti LGBTQ+  laws in place, and just 24 days before the race, the Hungarian government released more anti-LGBTQ+ laws, which targeted content which features homosexuality.

He also was the first F1 driver to feature on the cover of Attitude Magazine, as an ally to the LGBT community.

Attitude Magazine, with Sebastian Vettel on the front cover.

Abbie Eaton

Abbie Eaton is a racer who currently races in W Series, which is a formula series exclusively for women. She is known as the test driver on Amazon’s The Grand Tour, which starred Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May.

She would drive the latest cars around the Grand Tour test track, and she also featured in other episodes.  She is also an ambassador for Racing Pride, she hopes by doing this she can break stereotypes in motorsport.

Racing Pride is a positive movement about breaking down stereotypes and it creates an opportunity to show that the sport we love can be a welcoming environment for LGBTQ+ people like myself. I am very happy to be playing my part in that.

Abbie speaking about joining Racing Pride

The Power of Celebrity Voices

Both these drivers also use their strong media presence to get these messages across. Lewis expresses his messages to his 28 million Instagram followers, and he sometimes may include messages in post-race interviews.

Lewis Hamilton’s Instagram account

Sebastian does not use social media, but he uses other methods, such as custom helmet designs, and other forms of publicity stunts to show his support, such as wearing shirts and speaking on this to tv channels.

For example, he featured on BBC Question Time, where he spoke on climate change and other world matters.

Sebastian Vettel on BBC’S Question Time

In the past, racing drivers were not as free to share their opinions, on track or off track, but in more recent times, thanks to the dawn of social media, drivers can now feel freer to post their opinions on Instagram, and they feel free to speak about them on track, which is seen by millions of people.

Sebastian and Lewis are also not the only drivers to share their voice, other drivers also wear shirts with special messages on them during pre-race celebrations.

7 drivers, including Lewis and Sebastian wearing “End Racism” shirts before the 2020 Austrian GP.

Racing Pride

Racing Pride is a movement which was made to promote LGBTQ+ inclusivity in motorsport.

They were formed in 2019, and they intend to make “significant and lasting change” to motorsport.”

The community comprises of drivers, team members and track marshals from the LGBTQ+ community. 

They work with Formula drivers from the LGBTQ+ community, including Abbie Eaton.

They have also worked with Aston Martin F1, Alpine F1 Team and Sebastian Vettel.

Pride 2022, find out what F1 are doing this Pride Month

  • One way F1 teams and drivers have been showing support is by adding special touches to the liveries of the race cars, and race suits and helmets.
  • In June 2022, in time for Pride Month, F1 teams have made changes to their liveries in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Mercedes AMG F1 Team are racing with the “Pride Edition” version of their three-pointed star for the month of June, which is placed on the front of the Mercedes W13 car, and on the helmets of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.

The Mercedes W13, adorning the special Mercedes “Pride Star”
Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, sporting their 2022 helmets, which will also wear the Mercedes Pride Star for the month of June.

“Let’s use it for the rest of the year.!”

Lewis said on Instagram, after revealing the Mercedes Pride Star on his helmet.
  • Alpine F1 Team are also working with Racing Pride, and they have also placed the Pride Flag on their cars, above the engine cover.
The Alpine A522 car, wearing a Pride Flag above the engine cover
  • McLaren F1 Team have also put a rainbow on their famous speed mark logo, which is placed on their MCL36 car, alongside working with Mind, supporting LGBTQ+ people’s mental health.
The special McLaren Pride Speedmark, sitting on the bodywork of the MCL36.
  • Scuderia Ferrari, one of the oldest F1 teams, also have the “essereFerrari” (meaning Spirit of Ferrari) in Pride Colours, which features on the front wing of the F1-75 car, and the helmets of both drivers, Charles Leclerc, and Carlos Sainz.
The front wing of the F1-75, with the #essereFerarri in Pride colours.

Looking into the future

F1 themselves do not have any openly gay drivers, but this is not something they are against.

“Perhaps it wouldn’t have been the case in the past, but now I think a gay Formula One driver would be welcomed, and rightly so,”

Sebastian Vettel, speaking in Attitude Magazine

There is plenty of young talent in the younger Formulas who are looking to join F1 in the future, and with all the work that Racing Pride have done for the motorsport world, and these powerful voices in the F1 community, we can surely be ready to see members join soon.

F1 does have many openly gay team members in the garage working for the teams, who work on the cars making sure they can be as fast as possible for the drivers who drive them.